Exercise for seniors and baby boomers has been hammered into us. And there are equipment and gadgets galore. So why not make it easy, fun... and even a game.
We've been told exercise is one of the most important measures we can take to improve our independence and health as we age. Both for ourselves and as part of the elderly health care for those we may be taking care of.
It’s also really, really important if you’re a caregiver like I am. I had to make sure my dad did enough exercise of the right kind -- thankfully, he's always enjoyed it. But I also need it for myself, as a baby boomer caregiver.
If you’re feeling burdened or overwhelmed in any way, or tend
towards depression (which can happen to most of us sometime during
life), exercise truly helps. For me, exercise is the one sure way to get
the brain chemistry back in balance when I am battling with feeling
down or sluggish. (See more tips on our caregiver care page).
We’ve probably all heard all of the reasons why we should exercise since we get it in the media and magazines on a regular basis. But here is a summary of some excellent reasons we need to exercise as we age, according to the Mayo Clinic, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
Reasons To Exercise
Exercise for seniors…
may know all this. But do we do it? Many of us still resist – but why?
Sometimes out of habit, sometimes for health reasons. Maybe we think we
don’t have time. Or maybe we’re just a little lazy? Some us think
exercise can be flat-out boring. But for older folks, exercise can also come in the form of many different elderly games.
As far as I’m concerned, first and foremost, it’s got to be fun. (Unless you're having to do a rehabilitation routine, of course). I am one of those who resist exercise unless it is really appealing. Or necessary, like house work and yard work. And yes, those are included as forms of exercise. Plus, I do it in front of the TV, especially the Home and Garden channel.
I also have to bribe myself to exercise – give myself a special reward when I’m done. Plus it’s got to be easy – and exercise for seniors and boomers can be very easy, including while sitting and reclining.
How Much Exercise Is Enough?
According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), the average person 65 years or older, exercise for seniors should ideally include both:
The major muscle groups include: arms, shoulders, chest, abdomen, back, hips, legs. Exercise for seniors should include using these muscles groups several times per week.
Here is a simple breakdown of the ideal amount of exercise for seniors:
Any of this can be done in (at least) 10 minute segments throughout the day and week. It takes a good 10 minutes of any activity for it to really be effective. Stretching and joint exercises can also be included. And what is considered moderate exercise for seniors, may be vigorous for others. Like walking.
It depends on what shape your body is in (and we're not all going to look like the picture here), what you are used to, and your overall health. Moderate exercise will simply make your heart beat faster and you will breathe harder.
With vigorous exercise like running, you will also break into a sweat. And if the mere idea of running makes you gasp in advance (like me), then just walk. As rapidly as possible. I guess they call this "power waking." Walking alone will make me break into a sweat after awhile.
Sweating is healthy for you, of course, for your liver and for cleansing toxins out of your body. Just be sure to shower afterwards, or the toxins can be reabsorbed, one of my health professional friends has advised me. And as we age we should always consult our doctors or health professionals regarding exercise for seniors and middle-aged folks too, especially if we have health issues.
This all may seem like a tall order. At least to me.
Sometimes you have to first just get started in a small way, and then build it up. I know that if I jump into anything too fast and too much, I won’t keep it up.
Exercise for seniors is meant to be flexible and fun, even social. If you don’t know where to start, check out the following possibilities in your area:
you choose to do, be sure to always consult your medical professional
first if you have any concerns. And pay attention to your own body. The
most important thing is – to get moving – even in a small way! And consistently!
More pages about exercise for seniors and elderly:
Fun Exercises For The Elderly
-- At age 96, Dad is a champ with exercises for the elderly. We're
sharing what we do for many ability levels; great ideas for activity
directors or individuals.
Tai Chi For Seniors -- Tai Chi for seniors is based on an ancient Chinese tradition. But you may be surprised about how adaptable and beneficial it really is.
Yoga For Seniors -- We have excellent ideas about yoga for seniors, even if you are chair or home bound (like we are). And if you're an activities director, you can also learn to "teach" a mini yoga class yourself, the easy way.
About Spring Forest Qigong Do you know someone with stress, illness, pain, a chronic condition, depression? Spring Forest Qigong, based on ancient Chinese techniques of movement, breathing, meditation, and focus, can effectively help – with medical research to back it up. It may at first seem similar to yoga or t'ai chi – perhaps somewhat; but also surprisingly different. Recommended by many medical professionals nationwide (including by Deepak Chopra, M.D. and the Mayo Clinic), it has especially been found effective for chronic pain and help with depression, plus more. I experienced it myself, so I know first-hand – read about the specifics and how to learn more.